Sales data reveals coronavirus ‘cut property market in half’

Residential sales plummeted by more than 50% annually during the market lockdown, HMRC data reveals.

The taxman has published its monthly transaction figures for April, giving an early indication of how the market fared since restrictions were imposed on sales between the end of March and mid-May.

The figures are based on Stamp Duty returns, which can be filed up to two weeks after completion so the actual numbers may be slightly higher.

The data suggests that the number of seasonally adjusted residential sales fell by 53.4% annually and declined 46.1% on a monthly basis to 46,440 in April.

The figures are unsurprisingly the lowest on record.

Northern Ireland fared the worst, with sales down 79.2% annually, followed by a 67.1% drop in Scotland and 55.7% in Wales.

England, which has subsequently eased property market restrictions, saw sales decline by 54.9% during April.

Commenting on the data, John Phillips, national operations director at broker Just Mortgages, said: “It comes as no surprise to see that property transactions have basically been cut in half since the onset of Covid-19.

“But seeing these figures in black and white really does bring home the scale of the impact.

“In recent weeks we have started to see the sector returning to work and the early evidence is that activity is rapidly rising again.

“Just as with Brexit, people are fed up with having their lives put on hold and now the restrictions on movement are being eased, I believe we will see many people anxious to get on with long-planned house moves.

“As people have got used to remote working, there may even be a boost with more people looking to up sticks and live further away from their usual place of work.

“There is still a long way to go before this crisis is over but I’m confident that we are through the worst.”

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  1. iainwhite87

    I think this is a good news story . It didn’t plummet in my view when the circumstances are considered. What this means Is 50% was maintained during what is the most challenging period you can imagine . It shows how robust the housing market is, how innovative our industry can be when forced into action and it proves despite all the challenges business was still being done.

    I hope the innovations and pace of change stays as a permanent feature , I hope the more collaborative approach remains a factor.

    50% is a monumental achievement in my book .


  2. PeeBee

    “Residential sales plummeted by more than 50% annually during the market lockdown, HMRC data reveals…  The figures are based on Stamp Duty returns”

    So notsales” then – COMPLETIONS.

    Some Herbert in Government has already stated the extremely dubious figure of 450,000 “stalled” transactions – which only starts to sound somewhere near correct if you think that every completed sale has two parties transacting so 225000 potential completions sitting in La-La Land awaiting some kind of movement to see them through to conclusion or potential oblivion.

    But can somebody please explain to me how these “sales” can have fallen by only 46.1% on a monthly basis (the first to show the effect of COVID-19), yet the article above indicates an annual drop of over 50%?

    Doesn’t compute.


    1. PeeBee

      Okay – mystery solved.
      The “annual” differences reported on are actually Year-on-Year – so April 2020 vs. April 2019.
      Previous low was 2009, folks, when April’s total was 62120.  Those of us that were in the industry that year will remember it wasn’t an easy ride… but nothing happened that month – or any other in that hateful period – to slam shut transactions like a oyster shell, the way that lockdown has.
      And the thing to remember is that inside that oyster shell are probably a hundred and fifty thousand pearls waiting to be released – oysters simply weren’t producing their goods a decade-and-a-bit ago!

  3. GudeHG

    Estate agents seem as keen to get back to work as we are, with long waiting lists for viewings of new properties. We may need to adapt somewhat (more virtual viewings/online tours/3d technology etc), but people are certainly still keen to buy!

  4. GPL

    I have a Virtual Queue of Potential Buyers for a number of properties currently for sale – NO price reductions, NO bargains, NO serious Buyer’s expecting bargains.


    So, to the Headline Grabbing Property Doomsday Correspondents – go back into your Wendy Houses and stare at your virtual crystal ball for some other industry to spout your nonsense at!






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